The JSU English department writing center is sponsoring a graduate student writing challenge that will take place from Feb. 6 through March 18.
The writing challenge is open to graduate students working on writing projects. Four to five students will be in groups setting writing goals, and meet once per week.
Khadeidra Billingsley, who serves as Jacksonville State’s writing center director, began this challenge to help students understand their weaknesses and strengthen them over time with mentors.
“I’ve done it at previous institutions and it worked very well with great student and faculty buy-in,” Billingsley said.
The writing center provides assistance, virtually and in-person, for students' development in the writing process. Students can schedule consultations no more than twice a week and participate in writing workshops, according to JSU’s website.
Though the writing center is available, there wasn’t much support because the programs are online, so it allows for little in-person connection, according to Billinglsey. With the new writing challenge, graduate students can make that connection and talk with mentors about their writing.
They will discuss general topics and processes that apply to any type of writing to see where they can improve.
Each week, an hour-long Microsoft Teams meeting is held for the students to get feedback on their work. Every week a different topic is covered.
“This week is week one and they are working on setting writing goals, talking about what smart goals are and outlining short and long term goals,” Billingsley said.
Next week, the focus shifts to the students' individual writing processes and another week will be for students to apply their mentors' feedback into their writing.
Along with the group meeting, students are required to set up individual meetings to talk about their own individual work. Within those meetings, students will be able to address problems that were not covered in the group meetings.
“The intention of the challenge is to help provide support so they can continue to move forward towards completion,” Billingsley said.
The mentors offer students feedback in the individual meetings where students can express their concerns with their writing.
“I create a presentation for each topic and give it to the group leaders and provide them with notes about how they should be having discussions,” Billingsley said.
At the end of the challenge, students are expected to use the feedback and apply it to their writing, displaying what they have learned on their own.
“After the six weeks, they realize that we are a resource that is beneficial to have in their back pocket and continue to utilize those services even beyond the time constraints of the challenge,” Billingsley said.
To participate in the writing challenge, contact Writing Center Director Khadeidra Billingsley at firstname.lastname@example.org.